How the Latin neuter pronominal forms became markers of non-individuation in Spanish

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This paper aims at adequately analyzing and classifying an important functional change inside the Spanish pronominal system. This system seems to formally preserve forms of the Latin neuter, which now have the very specialized function of denoting non-individuated referents, one of the whole set of functions of the former Latin neuter pronouns. This article aims at retracing and revealing the main changes in the (pronominal) feature geometry from Latin to Modern Spanish, building on earlier work (cf.&#160;Pomino &#38; Stark 2007), after having given a short overview of the functions and the morphology of the so-called Modern Spanish neuter. As will be shown, neither formal (gradual loss of morphophonological material, &#8220;attrition&#8221; or &#8220;morphologicalization&#8221;) nor syntagmatic (broadening of &#8220;structural scope&#8221;) parameters of grammaticalization theory (following Lehmann 1985 <i>et passim</i>) are fulfilled for this special change. Furthermore, the notion of exaptation in the sense of Lass (1990) does not seem to be adequate either, even if seemingly &#8220;old&#8221; material fulfills a new function in Spanish. Instead, we argue that the analyzed change has to be considered as an example of basic metonymic change (restriction of the meaning of a form by at the same time generalization of its function).


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